Tradition holds that Moses wrote the first five books of the bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy). Though some believe it was a series of authors.

If we stick to tradition, is Moses calling himself the most humble man on the planet here? How would he have known this about himself?

Numbers 12:1-4 NIV Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite. “Has the Lord spoken only through Moses?” they asked. “Hasn’t he also spoken through us?” And the Lord heard this. (Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.) At once the Lord said to Moses, Aaron and Miriam, “Come out to the tent of meeting, all three of you.” So the three of them went out.

  • just a small comment there is no indication in Biblical Cosmology that the earth is a planet, it’s a plane. There is no mention of planets in the Bible only stars, moon and sun. Commented Apr 21, 2019 at 2:42

6 Answers 6


From Constable's "Notes" in the NET Bible:

The statement of Moses’ humility (v. 3) was not a boastful claim by the writer but an inspired statement of fact. We need not conclude that another writer added it later since it is essential to the argument of this passage. That another writer added it later is a distinct possibility, however. One writer suggested that on the basis of etymology, usage, and context the qere reading of the Hebrew word used here is preferable. He believed the Hebrew word should be translated “miserable” rather than “meek”[109**] (my emphasis).

Being a man of sometimes extreme emotion, Moses, in the midst of this mini-rebellion instigated by Miriam, may have indeed felt miserable. Whether the key word is humble or miserable is an issue for Bible translators to hash out amongst themselves. The task is far above my pay grade!

**Cleon Rogers, “Moses: Meek or Miserable?” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 29:3 (September 1986):257-63.

  • See also Matthew 11:29 (Jesus) and Luke 1:48 (Mary). Commented Oct 9, 2018 at 17:50
  • @SolaGratia: Excellent citations! Thank you. Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 12:18

Jewish tradition holds that the written Torah was dictated by God to Moses, and that Moses had no discretion as to what to write, even the last verses of the Torah that describe his death. See Rashi to Deut. 34:5.

Although Moses had to write down everything as dictated, traditional commentators believe that he found a way to make a personal statement that he was embarrassed by the accolades given to him by God. The first words in the Book of Leviticus begins ויקרא אל משה ("And He called to Moses"). The word ויקךא comes from the root קךא ("to call"). So when God wished to speak to Moses He "called" him. However, when God spoke to Balaam (Numb. 23:16) his prophecy is introduced by ויקר without an א, a word with two connotations -- one meaning "chance" and another meaning "spiritual contamination" (see 1 Sam. 20:26 for an example). This implies that although God had reason to speak to Balaam, He did not do so lovingly.

When Moses wrote the Book of Leviticus, however, he purposefully made the א smaller than the surrounding letters -- a tradition that continues when each Torah scroll is written. According to the Baal HaTurin, although God dictated that Moses write the word with an א, as an expression of affection, Moses wrote the letter very small to indicate his monumental humility.


Obviously, it could only have at best been written by Joshua.

Moses received the Torah, and perhaps a confirmation of the oral and written history that had pervaded/preceded the culture of Israel. Then someone else would have to write it down.

Otherwise, the ending passage of Deuteronomy was also written by Moses? How could a dead Moses have written his own obit ?? I am trying to keep the original non-finite tense, and converting it to past participle when it makes sense with the conversive vav:

So he dies there Mosheh servant of the LORD in the land Moav, according to the LORD. And He buries him in the valley/ravine in the land of Moav, opposite Bet-Peor (House/city of big gap). And not a man knows of his tomb till this day.

Mosheh was hundred and twenty years at his death. Not dimmed his eye, his vigour not having abandoned him.

Mourning they the children of Israel for Mosheh in the plains of Moav, thirty days, and so ends the days of weeping of mourning Mosheh.

Joshua son of Nun filled with spirit of wisdom that Mosheh had enjoyed at his hands on him (i.e. Mosheh had the privilege of being supported by Joshua's wisdom)

Would listen to him they sons of Israel. They would do that which the LORD instructs Mosheh.

Not arisen a prophet any more in Israel like Mosheh, whom the LORD knew face to face.

Look at verse 34:9. Ignore the traditional translations. It says in Hebrew, that the wisdom of Joshua supported Moses, with his hand on him. So Joshua was Moses' assistant and possibly scribe.

Verse 34:5 says according to the description by the LORD, Moses died. Could it be logical that Moses dies, and nobody knew, and then the LORD came to Israel to inform them the bad news, and then Moses wrote about it while buried?

Like today, many theses are titled as authored by a professor, where the actual verification and data entry were performed by his/her students. The professor was functioning as the Lead Engineer/Architect, designing all the experiments and interpreting the results.

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    Bet-Peor must have been a town sitting next to a canyon - hence house of big gap. Where the canyon would have been deep and treacherous.
    – Cynthia
    Commented Jul 3, 2014 at 11:13

I believe that Moses wrote the first 5 books of the Bible. Because God dictated the words to Moses God could have dictated the words about Moses death before Moses died because God knows the future!

  • Welcome to BHSE! Please make sure you take our Tour (see below left). Meantime, if you plan seriously on staying with us, answer the question and show some supporting citations or documentations with it, vs thoughts/opinions. Thanks. Commented Apr 22, 2019 at 1:43

2 Answers: 1. God dictated Moses to write that. 2. Moses did know he is humble and for the sake of the readers to understand the context, he had to write that (or let's say, God need to let Moses write that).

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    – Steve11235
    Commented Apr 17, 2020 at 18:27

It is possible that Moses considered himself the most humble person “on the face of the earth”, but he surely did not see himself as the most humble person “on the planet”. In pre-modern times people did not know that the earth is a planet and did not refer to it as such. They thought that the earth is immobile in the centre of the universe.

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